LIFE? DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT LIFE.


Marvin: Life? Don’t talk to me about life!
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979

There’s a lot of stuff going on. None of it — discounting, for the moment, the presidential election (which is a huge discount) — life-threatening, but much of it tiring and annoying — and all of it, expensive. These days, being healthy carries a hefty price tag.

When you live on a fixed income,  a few thousand dollars of additional debt is a big deal. It brings us to a screeching halt. It’s weird having to decide if ones health is worth the money. Even more hilarious, I find myself wondering if I’m going to live long enough to amortize the investment. If you feel inspired to encourage me with a platitude at this point, please don’t. I’ve heard them all, no doubt said them to myself and probably to other people. It will not make me feel better.

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As a side note, last week, someone in New Hampshire won $457 million dollars on a $1 lottery ticket. It wasn’t us.

The only reason I’m bothering to write about this stuff at all, is it’s putting a damper on my joie de vivre.

So here, in his own words, are tidbits from the philosophy of Marvin, the Depressed Robot

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Picture credit: BBC

A Sunny Disposition:

Marvin: “My capacity for happiness you could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first.”

Arthur: “I think that door just sighed.”
Marvin: “Ghastly, isn’t it?”

Marvin: “Sorry, did I say something wrong? Pardon me for breathing which I never do anyway so I don’t know why I bother to say it oh God I’m so depressed.”

A ‘Can Do’ Attitude:

Arthur: “Marvin, any ideas?”
Marvin: “I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.”

Trillian: “Marvin… you saved our lives!”
Marvin: “I know. Wretched, isn’t it?”

Marvin: “I’ve calculated your chance of survival, but I don’t think you’ll like it.”

A Strong Work Ethic:

Marvin: “I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.”
Trillian: “Well, we have something that may take your mind off it.”
Marvin: “It won’t work, I have an exceptionally large mind.”

Marvin: “Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction, ’cause I don’t.”

Marvin: “‘Reverse primary thrust, Marvin.’ That’s what they say to me. ‘Open airlock number three, Marvin.’  ‘Marvin, can you pick up that piece of paper?’ Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.”

A Good Education:

Marvin: “It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.”

Arthur Dent: “You mean you can see into my mind?”
Marvin: “Yes.”
Arthur: “Well?”
Marvin: “It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small.”

Marvin: “I am at a rough estimate thirty billion times more intelligent than you. Let me give you an example. Think of a number, any number.”
Zem: “Er, five.”
Marvin: “Wrong. You see?”

A Positive Approach To Health And Well-being:

Zaphod Beeblebrox: “There’s a whole new life stretching out in front of you.”
Marvin: “Oh, not another one.”

Marvin: “Do you want me to sit in a corner and rust or just fall apart where I’m standing?”

Marvin: “The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline.”

A Keen Interest In Philosophy:

Marvin: “Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”

Marvin: “I ache, therefore I am.”

Marvin: “Life. Loathe it or ignore it. You can’t like it.”

There, now don’t we all feel like better people already?

Douglas Adams, I still miss you all these many years later.

WITH RELENTLESS EFFICIENCY

After a lot of whining and complaining, I settled down. I filled out the ridiculous amount of paperwork, reconstructed as much of my medical history as I could — anything more than 5 years ago, is more than a little vague — and of course, my list of medications. I got my son to witness my permission to hunt down my records (good luck with that), and signed a new health proxy (everyone should have one — and I do mean absolutely everyone). Then, papers in hand, we drove over to the new doctor’s office — a mere one town over!

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I turned them over along with the appropriate Medicare insurance information and went home to notify Blue Cross Blue Shield that I’m changing doctors. They actually didn’t care because I have a PPO and don’t require a listed primary care doctor. I can go to any doctor that takes BCBS payments … which is nearly every doctor in the region except the group to which my current doctor is migrating.

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I explained that I needed an appointment with the new guy because I was going to need new prescriptions at the end of this month. Somehow, she found an appointment. Which conflicted with the dental appointment and the finishing up of my crown. So I took the doctor appointment, moved the dentist to the following day, leaving one day before the cardiologist appointment … and the almost immediate arrival of a houseful of out-of-town visitors. June and July have filled up.

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Summer always fills up quickly. I’m sure you’ve noticed. The weather turns warm and suddenly, you’re booking stuff for next September. It’s because winter is brutal. You can’t count on anything in the winter. Nature might just decide to throw a blizzard on the day you plan to visit those friends in Vermont. Instead, no one is going anywhere for a few days at least.

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It’s amazing how we manage to not see people we really want to see because when we are free, they are not. Everyone is busy seeing the people they need to see while they can … and before you know it, another year slips away.

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I haven’t found the cure for not enough time. I’ve been looking for something to do about this my whole life. I thought, after retirement, we’d have all the time in the world. In a sense, we do … but we live in New England. Winter is at best a wild card. You can plan, but you can’t be sure it will really happen, which means we really only have half the year to do stuff . There’s always more stuff to do than time.

I’m working on this. I suspect I’ll always be working on it forever.

LOOKING BACK ON MY FIRST POST: WITHOUT BENEFIT OF CLERGY:

In a different context, WordPress asked us to share our first post. Well, actually, this isn’t my first post, but it’s the closest thing to the first I’ve retained in archives. Though I started blogging in February 2012, I didn’t really get into it until May. This was published May 22, 2012. It’s too long and rambling, but I’ll let it stand, minus a few typos.

Note that I’m away through tomorrow, so if I don’t answer comments, it’s because I did not bring my computer.


I was Jewish when I married Garry in a Lutheran Church. I said then … and I say now …  any God I might be willing to worship would not care what ritual was used or in what language we spoke our vows. I really believe everyone has the right to live life as they want, to have or not have children. Spend whatever day you consider the Sabbath doing whatever you want.

Travel your path and be glad.

All prayers are good prayers. Goodness is goodness, whether you believe in God or not. Faith is a choice, decency is a requirement. You don’t need a church to know the difference between right and wrong. Some of the worst people I’ve known were ardent church goers and some of the best were skeptics or atheists. I’ll bet that God knows who is who and is not fooled by how often you attend church.

Garry and I were married in his church on Long Island because he had a strong emotional attachment to it. I didn’t have any particular attachment to any religious institution, though still have an attachment to Judaism as a philosophy and as a moral compass. And as an ethnic identity: Yiddishkeit, as it were.

When we renewed our vows the first time, it was in front of a notary, but the next renewal was under the sky in our backyard by a minister of the Christian Reform Church. Maybe we’ll do it again and who knows who will officiate? We intended to renew our vows again for our 20th anniversary, but I was sick that year and I had other things on my mind. Hopefully, we’ll both be available for 25th. That seems like a good number for another renewal.

Marriage is a contract between two adults. It doesn’t require benefit of clergy. Any religion is okay and no religion is okay too. Unless you live in a theocracy and thankfully we do not … yet …you don’t need to believe in anything but your partner to get married.  I hate the theocratic trend this country is taking. I’m baffled as to how God and religion are suddenly the arbiters of what constitutes a family.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness …”

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The bit about pursuing happiness seems to have been lost along the way. Pity because it’s not less important than the rest. It may be the most important. What good is life and liberty if you can’t be happy? Gay, straight, old, young … we deserve the right to marry who we choose and be happy.

If we start defining the meaning of marriage, if we declare that marriage is sacred and exists entirely  for the creation of children, what about people who don’t want children? Are they the next group not allowed to marry? How about people who are too old to make babies? Can they marry? For too many years in a lot of states, people of different races were forbidden to marry … was that okay? They said that it was God’s decree too. Funny how it’s always God’s plan … no individual ever seems to be responsible.

You can interpret “God’s teaching” however you like, but if it’s so clear what God wants, why all the religious debate — not to mention wars — for thousands of years?

Gay, straight, or not entirely clear on the issue, marry if you want to. Or not. Be happy.

I have no opinion on an afterlife. I don’t know.  Neither do you. You can believe what you like but you don’t know anything because God doesn’t talk to you. Or me. Make this life a good one. It’s the only one you know for certain you’ve got.

Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe with both hands and don’t let go until you’ve squeezed that last bit of joy from your world!

NOT CHERRIES

A man, determined to find the meaning of life, sets out to climb one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. He has heard that atop that peak, living in a cave, lives the wisest man in the world, the one who knows the truth of all things and the meaning of life.

After a long and nearly fatal climb, the exhausted man reaches the top of the mountain. He finds the cave and presents himself to the elderly gentleman residing within.

What life is not.

“Oh Great Wise One,” says the climber, “I have come to hear your words of wisdom. Enlighten me. Tell me the meaning of life.”

“Life,” says the Wise One without hesitation, “Is a bowl of cherries.”

The man is outraged by this facetious answer. “Bowl of cherries!!” he shouts, “What kind of answer is that?”

“You mean,” says the Wise One, ” … it’s not a bowl of cherries?”


They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I am not that tough. When life starts to overwhelm me with questions for which I have no answers, I tuck the problem on a mental shelf. I buy a pink plastic flamingo and name him Fred. I take some pictures. Or I write something.

None of this solves the problem, but every so often, if I procrastinate long enough, the problem goes away. Sometimes.

When you don’t have any other brilliant ideas, denial and delay are always worth a shot.

JUST ANOTHER SUNDAY SAGA

This has been a weird week. I do not say this lightly. It is the kind of week from which great after dinner stories come, though it might take a while before our curdled brains settle down and we get everything in order.

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Exactly a week ago, our granddaughter had a blow up with her mother, with whom she usually lives. Of course, being mostly out of touch with both Kaity and her mom, we didn’t know anything about this until our son, Kaity’s father, came by to explain that Kaity and Sandy were in a bad place. Oh, and by the way, Kaity is on her way over. As he said that, there was Kaity. With boyfriend and puppy. And all her belongings. Moving in.

Garry was in the bathroom, so imagine his surprise when he came out and discovered Kaity was in the process of moving in. He looked a bit dazed, but recovered his feet pretty fast.

Two days later, Kaity yells up the stair to tell us she is moving out. Mom’s doing better and see you later. Maybe I’ll be back.

The next day, Owen’s coworker needed a place to stay. Recovering alcoholic, but hey, who isn’t a recovering something, right? He gave us some cash for the room and moved all his stuff in. He and Garry really hit it off and everything was good.

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The next day, I noticed he hadn’t come home and when I went down to check, he — and all his stuff — was gone. I called Owen. Owen said Kirk had not shown up at work, either … but had told the boss he’d checked himself into rehab. I guess that was some shaky wagon he was on.

Not a word to us or Owen.

Today is Sunday again. A week has passed since the drama began. Garry lost his bag, found his bag. Kaity moved in, moved out, and went back to mom. Kirk is somewhere in time and space and good luck to him.

Our saga continues as nightly, until the wee hours, Garry and I follow the adventures of Angel, the Vampire with a soul.

I think the problem is demons. We are infested with demons and they are wreaking havoc with our lives. It’s the only possible explanation.

SAGA | THE DAILY POST

ALWAYS BECOMING

It used to be a standing joke when we were in college. How we were all “searching for ourselves” and then we would laugh uproariously because it sounded so pretentious.

Many long decades have passed since then. It turns out, life is a process of defining identity. We are all permanently searching for ourselves, then redefining what we find. Over and over again, we refine our self-definitions — our identity — as we experience the stuff life throws at us.

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I am not the person I started out to be. Nor am I the person I was when I was young, then older, then older still.

I am always becoming. My identity will never be finished or fully defined. Yet I am who I am and no one could mistake me for anyone other than me. We are each a unique riddle wrapped in a mystery. We are laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, fear and hope. A bundle of contradictions.

Whatever identity we have, it’s a moving target with lots of labels. All of which are true and none of which are complete.

IDENTITY – THE DAILY POST

CHANGING PERSPECTIVE

Perspective

1 Corinthians

11   When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12   For now we see as in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I too am known.

I’m not usually big on quoting the bible, but sometimes — and this is one of those times — no place says it better.

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I was an “old” child. When I was very young, I talked like a much older person. I read “adult person” literature and thought of myself as very mature. I wasn’t. I was intellectually precocious, but still a child. Who used big words and almost understood many adult things.

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Almost. There are a whole lot of things that simply don’t make sense until you’ve lived a life. Reading about life isn’t living it. A child, no matter how smart, is never more mature than his or her years and experience. That’s perspective.

Perspective isn’t static. At 10, you see things through 10-year-old eyes. As years and decades roll on, you see the same things differently, sometimes extremely so. Perhaps you really do see through a glass darkly. Or you should. If decades of living don’t change your perspective, something is wrong — with you or the life you’ve lived. We are supposed to change. The only things that don’t change are dead.

I hear people my age or even younger saying “Well, that’s the way I am. I’m not going to change.”

Yeats' Grave

There’s a terrible finality in that statement. A sad finality, like a eulogy for “self.”

Someday, I’ll be too old or sick for change. The end comes to everyone. But until then, I hope my perspective keeps changing. I hope I revise my opinions often and contradict myself frequently.

Perspective.